A Return to Flowers

Robert Lemay studio

I spent 30 years painting still life and I started pursuing other subject matter a few years ago. I’ve been waiting to have something new to say about flowers. 

There is a world in our backyard even in this short season of sun and bloom in the northern climate of Edmonton. The peonies came late this year and we’re still waiting on the hydrangeas you’ll see pictured. Last year, I photographed many of the flowers but wasn’t ready to paint them. 

Lemay studio

The light and shadows always return me to Caravaggio and the sculptural quality of flowers appeals to me. And surprising to some, but one of my favourite artists is Cy Twombly. I like his touch and the poetry of his work, and am continually inspired by his abstracted flowers. 

Robert Lemay studio

I’ve enjoyed returning to flower shapes. There was a time when I was more interested in the volume of fruit, the structure and texture of old books, and finally tackling the figure and the topography of the face. Even painting animals, which is a subject from my childhood, has been a part of my exploration as an artist. 

A  return to flowers, for me, is less of a return, as they were always there. 
— Robert Lemay

My main interest has always been light and how it reveals / conceals forms in space. A  return to flowers, for me, is less of a return, as they were always there. 


Lemay studio

I feel free to navigate back and forth between subject matter, whether it’s painting a Vogue cover, a still from a movie with Grace Kelly or Cary Grant, an animal on a National Geographic magazine, or the deep mystery of flowers in my backyard. 

As an artist, I need to try new things to stay fresh and to keep my seeing accurate and engaged.  

detail of peony Robert Lemay
Shawna Lemay3 Comments